Piano Theory Of Hearing

AUDITION/HEARING, THEORIES OF.

PIDDINGTON'S COMPENSATORY HUMOR THEORY. The English anthropologist Ralph Piddington refers to his theoretical approach toward humor as the compensatory theory of humor, which is a concept derived from the relationship between elementary laughter and laughter at the ludicrous in which the principle of psychic compensation (i.e., a hypothesized mechanism by which one seeks to make up for a real or imagined psychological defect by developing or exaggerating a psychological strength) is invoked. According to Piddington, laughter serves a social function by a process that is analogous to "exaggeration of the opposite character." The reasoning behind Piddington's compensatory humor theory is that all ludicrous situations are potentially subversive to the social order, and the reaction of laughter (affirming the "satisfying nature of the situation, breaking up all trains of thought, and producing bodily euphoria) is the socially appropriate response to the stimulus of the ludicrous. Also, it is the response that expresses the "suitable" attitude for members of society to take towards ludicrous situations, and its primary function is to prevent any disturbance of the system of social values on which the society depends for its existence and strength. In his approach, Piddington compares his "compensatory" notion against various other intellectualist, degradation, corrective, play-mood, biological and aesthetic theories. Piddington also refers to B. Malinowski's theory of needs and W. L. Warner's theory of species behavior as a foundation for inclusion in his humor theory of both the biological needs and the psychological drives upon which social behaviors (such as kinship and family) are based. Piddington's treatment of laughter is neither entirely psychological nor entirely biological, and he attempts to assess the psychology of the original reaction of laughter and to relate this to the various functions that it subserves in society. Piddington's humor theory may be called the "two contradictory social situations theory," whereby the ludicrous basically involves two contradictory social evaluations in which the laughter that is aroused is a socially-conditioned reaction that signifies satisfaction under some otherwise socially-disturbing conditions. See also HUMOR, THEORIES OF; SOCIAL/COMMUNICATION THEORY OF LAUGHTER. REFERENCES

Piddington, R. (1933/1963). The psychology of laughter: A study in social adaptation. London: Figurehead. Malinowski, B. (1944). A scientific theory of culture and other essays. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Warner, W. L. (1959/1975). The living and the dead: A study of the symbolic life of Americans. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

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